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Favorite Language

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Devils_Advocate
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Favorite Language  

31 members have voted

  1. 1. Languages

    • Chinese
      0
    • English
      18
    • Spanish
      1
    • Chinese
      1
    • Hindi
      0
    • Latin/Italian
      1
    • French
      1
    • German
      0
    • Russian
      0
    • Constructed/Other
      4


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Does anyone else out there have a favorite langauge?

I've got a penchant for language (I can speak fluent English, decent German and Chinese, and am progressing quickly in my study of Latin), and I was wondering if there's anyone else who finds linguistics a fascinating subject (hobby?).

I would love to place my vote for Latin - compact, challenging - but that makes it endlessly more fascinating, a great window into a great culture, and it really shows Language at a pinnacle of sophistication.

However, I can't.

I'm going to have to vote for Lojban - constructed by a bunch of Linguistic Scholars during the mid - fifties (well, that was Loglan, the predecessor, but they're pretty close). The language is completely unambiguous and logical. I don't speak a word of it, but any language that fits those categories I have to call nearly (if not totally) perfect.

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Yiddish. In some ways Yiddish is much more expressive than English.

For example, the earliest counterfactual definite I ever learned:

Az die bobbe vot gehat baytzim solst geveyn mein zadde.

Which loosely translated means you have reasoned from a false premise but more correctly translate:

If my grandmother had testicles she would be my grandfather.

See. It doesn't sound all that good in English.

Bob Kolker

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I have to vote for English. I only speak Hebrew as native language and fluent English, and recently started learning Korean as a hobby, so my knowledge of different languages is far from comprehensive. However English has one thing going for it which decides the vote for me: English is widely known throughout the western world. Since I am full of hope that the world will move in the direction of speaking a universal language, and English is a likely candidate, I have to root for it.

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Luckily my native language is English, I say luckily because I feel bad for anyone who has to learn it because it's difficult.

I've taken courses in French, German, Latin and Spanish. I've been learning Spanish by immersion for just over a year now.

I've studied German the most, and it is the worst. The articles for nouns have 3 arbitrary genders: der, die, das; depending on the arbitrary gender of the words. There's some insane number of ways to make words plural. There are long compound words, where multiple words are crammed together. Verbs have a tendency to come at the end of sentences so for a long sentence you may have to wait till the end to know what is going on.

For enjoyment, and Epistemological research I recommend Spanish because it has some interesting features such as two different senses of the verb "to be" (ser, estar), which English lumps together. Two different words for "to know" (conocer, saber) [something like German]. Most of the vocabulary already exists in English, but with different pronunciations; however, it is mostly Latin based words it shares with English. The sentence construction is much looser than English. All the words are spelled phonetically. In some ways it is more efficient than English because you can leave a bunch of words out of sentences and indicate the means by the endings of the words. E.g., you hardly ever need to use pronouns such as he, she, it, we, etc. Some problems Spanish has is that it derives mostly from Latin so it has some really long words, but this is off set by a rapid influx of English words.

English is very cool because it is so purposeful and adaptive, and steals so many words from other languages. In general it follows the pragmatic rules that if a word is used often it tends to be small, while less common words tend to be larger. There are many ways to say the same thing using words from many different language origins. You can use long Latin words, or short Greek words. It has well established specialized lexicons for business, computers, science etc.

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English is very cool because it is so purposeful and adaptive, and steals so many words from other languages. In general it follows the pragmatic rules that if a word is used often it tends to be small, while less common words tend to be larger. There are many ways to say the same thing using words from many different language origins. You can use long Latin words, or short Greek words. It has well established specialized lexicons for business, computers, science etc.

English is not quite as good as Yiddish for cursing out someone or denigrating them. For example calling someone a penis or a jewel does not quite have the emotional charge as calling someone schmuck or a putz.

Bob Kolker

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